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U.S. FDA Revokes Emergency Use Authorization for J&J’s COVID Vaccine
White House Set to Tap Obama Veteran Mandy Cohen to Lead CDC
President Joe Biden plans to appoint former North Carolina health secretary Mandy Cohen as the next director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three people with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO.
Cohen, an Obama-era health official well-known in Democratic policy circles, would replace outgoing CDC chief Rochelle Walensky, who is slated to leave the agency at the end of the month.
Her selection would come at a transition point for the CDC, which faced intense scrutiny over its performance throughout the COVID crisis and low morale within the sprawling agency.
The CDC is also in the midst of a strategic overhaul launched by Walensky last year; a longer-term project that Cohen would be tasked with managing in an effort to better prepare the agency for the next public health emergency.
Sen. Rand Paul Blocking Biden Nominees Until COVID Documents Released
Paul has been requesting these documents for years, following concerns that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could have been created through “gain-of-function” experiments.
“I’ve been trying to get COVID records for three years and my concern with the COVID records is that the U.S. government funded a lot of research that was risky research called ‘gain-of-function’ research,” Paul told NTD News on Thursday. “Some of that research was funded in China, and some of it’s been funded in our country. And I think that we need to find out about all of that research and it needs to come to the public, it needs to be reviewed.”
As part of his effort to compel the current administration to release any records relating to the origins of COVID-19, Paul is now vowing to block President Joe Biden’s nominees.
CDC Study: Nearly All Americans Had Some Level of COVID Immunity by Last Fall
The study, which was published Thursday, tested blood donations from people ages 16 years and older for antibodies against the coronavirus from July through September 2022.
It found that 96% of people had antibodies by last fall. About 23% were from infection alone and 26% were from vaccination alone. Nearly 48% had hybrid immunity — a number that’s only expected to grow as the coronavirus continues to circulate.
The difference in infection rates between vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans lessened over time, possibly due to waning protection from vaccines or increased immune evasion from Omicron subvariants. Researchers wrote it also could be “attributable to increasing similarities in behavior among vaccinated and unvaccinated persons during late 2022.”
International Trade Is Slowing Rapidly as the COVID Recovery Fizzles and Globalization Stalls, Fitch Says
The rating agency expects international trade to grow by 1.9% this year, down from the 5.5% growth rate seen in 2022 and sees world GDP rising by 2%, down from last year’s 2.7%.
Factors for the trade slowdown include tighter monetary policy, declining fiscal support, and the resurgence of the services sector, which contributes less to trade than the goods sector does.
Australian Garlic Variety Can Limit Internal Spread of COVID and Influenza A, Doherty Institute Finds
A study by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (the Doherty Institute) and farming company Australian Garlic Producers has found that extracts of an as-yet-to-be-named garlic, have the ability to stop the spread of viral cells from SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A in the digestive system.
The potentially flu-busting garlic is from a commercial crop grown in Merbein, near Mildura, in north-western Victoria.
The team tested about 20 varieties of garlic in different forms, but the laboratory trials found only one type of garlic was effective in curbing the infectivity of the viruses. Dr. McAuley said if this variety of garlic was taken as a dietary supplement it would “combine with the [COVID] virus and prevent it from infecting the cells in our digestive tract”.
Long COVID Can Make It Tougher to Exercise, and Research Is Revealing Why
Lack of energy for exercise is a common problem for folks with so-called long COVID. New research pinpoints the most likely reason why: diminished capacity to get the heart pumping fast enough to support the effort. The name for this is chronotropic incompetence.
Chronotropic incompetence wasn’t the only reason people with long COVID had lower than expected exercise capacity in the new study, “but it was surprisingly common among people with long COVID,” he added. They also discovered that all patients who struggled with a reduced capacity to exercise also experienced reactivation of a prior infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Epstein-Barr is linked to mononucleosis and multiple sclerosis.
For this study, researchers looked at 60 adults who had had COVID-19 and assessed them about 18 months after their initial infection. The average age was 53. Participants underwent MRI scans and aerobic exercise tests, alongside heart rhythm monitoring, while on stationary bikes. Blood samples were also taken.
So what does explain the link between long COVID and chronotropic incompetence? Study first author Dr. Matthew Durstenfeld, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said there’s no clear answer yet, though he suggested that “it may have something to do with inflammation or the autonomic nervous system.”
U.S. Births in 2022 Didn’t Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels
Births to moms 35 and older continued to rise, with the highest rates in that age group since the 1960s. But those gains were offset by record-low birth rates to moms in their teens and early 20s, the CDC found. Its report is based on a review of more than 99% of birth certificates issued last year.
A little under 3.7 million babies were born in the U.S. last year, about 3,000 fewer than the year before. Because the numbers are provisional and the change was small, officials consider births to have been “kind of level from the previous year,” said the CDC’s Brady Hamilton, the lead author of the report.
U.S. births were declining for more than a decade before COVID-19 hit, then dropped a whopping 4% from 2019 to 2020. They ticked up about 1% in 2021, an increase that experts attributed to pregnancies that couples had put off amid the early days of the pandemic.